Folks are wondering what is up with Ars Magica and coming books. What I can tell you is that the next book will be Normandy, and the book after that will be Art & Academe.
In the case of Normandy, the manuscript was turned in by David; Michelle gave it the in-house read-through/proofing edit; and I have begun page layout work and some of the art direction (specifically, the part that involves finding some basic public domain historical images, which there are more than usual to be found for a Tribunal book versus one that is more completely drawn from imagination).
In the case of Art & Academe, the manuscript has been turned in by David.
So why are they not on the schedule? A few reasons.
The staff of Atlas Games is now, well, me and Michelle.
Michelle's #1 priority of late has been the 40 Years of Gen Con book, a huge project (168 pages, full color, hardcover), which has an absolutely unnegotiably firm deadline, since of course it has to be there at Gen Con #40 this August. This means Michelle has not been available to help on Ars Magica.
As for me...I decided earlier this year (before we knew Jeff would be leaving) to run for city council in the town where we live, Maplewood. This has taken an increasing amount of my time, and going forward it's going to take a much, much larger amount of my time, as I literally need to make thousands of phone calls and door-to-door visits to likely voters (as well as fundraising, campaign lit writing, and many other things).
(If you wonder what might drive me to shoulder this thankless burden, you might read this article from our weekly metro paper about "the Twin Cities' most dysfunctional suburb": citypages.com/databank/28/13 ... e15218.asp)
In the time I do have for Atlas between now and November, I have to prioritize very harshly. The number one priority is doing the essentials for cash flow and financial management -- packing distributor orders, writing invoices, depositing checks, making sure bills are paid on time. Then there are the customer service things, everything from helping replace defective game components to sending promotional materials to stores to sending out convention support. I have to return phone calls and answer e-mails on all kinds of random topics.
Getting new products out the door is actually pretty low on the to-do list. (New item sales are nice, but most of our sales and an even bigger proportion of our profit comes from the backlist sales.) I can't predict when I will have time for it, or how much time I'll have, or how long it will take to do the necessary tasks. For that reason, I am unwilling to promise release dates until I have something pretty solid to predict. (In the case of Glimpse of the Abyss, for example, I actually have a printout on the desk waiting to get bundled off to the printer...but I won't actually send it until sometime in July.)
Before someone suggests that we should hire another employee...understand that in the short term, a new employee would reduce productivity, as I would have to spend time on the employee search process, then training and the much higher level of assistance and supervision that someone new to a job inevitably needs (and given the size of Atlas, it's not just one job -- there would be no point in hiring someone who could not wear half a dozen or more hats).
Before someone wonders if Atlas is doing OK financially -- we're fine. More than fine, actually. I wouldn't take on this city council race if I had concerns about the financial health of Atlas; I'd be working to fix it. We have money in the bank from three nicely profitable years in a row -- and our profit in the first quarter of 2007 was actually higher than the full-year profit of 2006. We've seen weaker initial sales on most product lines, but very strong continuing sales (this is true of Ars Magica as well...we may sell less out of the gate in the first couple of weeks, but over a 6-month period or more, we're selling just as well as supplements did right after the release of 5th edition), and our core card game products (like Lunch Money, Once Upon A Time, Gloom, Dungeoneer, Let's Kill) just keep selling without requiring a lot of extra effort or investment.
As for the long-term future of Ars Magica, it's still moving forward. David Chart contract as line editor continues, and he's working on projects planned for the much farther distant future. There's a choke point in-house here at Atlas this year, but we're not slowing down David's rate of work; we'll just be accumulating finished books, basically.
Anyhow, I thought I'd let folks get an idea of what's going on behind the scenes here, since it has an effect in particular on Ars Magica fans hungry for new books.